Sushi has undergone quite the makeover through the course of time. It has upgraded from a simple vinegared rice dish to the uber chic handmade meals served at high-end Japanese restaurants. Sushi can be made with either brown or white rice, and is consistent of seafood – traditionally raw but sometimes cooked. The difference between sushi and sashimi is the rice factor; raw fish (or occasionally other meat) sliced and served without rice is called "sashimi".
So if you’re intrigued as to just how healthy sushi is as a meal option, we’ve got the lowdown for you. But before we get into the nutritional details, let’s explore the different types of sushi so you’ll know what to order when you go out.
- Nori: Black seaweed wrappers used to make most forms of wrapped sushi rolls.
- Makizushi: Also called Maki sushi. Wrapped, cylindrical sushi rolls with the nori on the outside, Maki can be thick or thin, large or small depending on its contents.
- Uramaki: An inside-out roll where the rice is on the outside, and the nori is on the inside. The rice coating is sometimes coated with toasted sesame seeds or roe. A California Roll is a kind of uramaki roll.
- Nigirizushi: Meaning hand-pressed sushi. It is also referred to as Nigiri sushi and is made with a clump of rice and a slice of (usually) raw fish pressed on top. Sometimes a thin strip of nori is used as a binding.
- Neta: Nigiri toppings or sushi roll fillings.
- Temaki: Meaning “hand roll,” temaki sushi consist of large, cone-shaped nori, with the sushi contents (neta) contained inside.
The average sushi dinner contains 200 to 300 calories – or easily top 1,000 calories, depending on how much and what kind you order. Fish is a staple food in many countries and is considered an important food group for the fact that most types of fish are high in protein and low in fat – even the ones that are high in fat are relatively healthy and good for the heart. Omega-3 fatty acids are the most commonly found in fish, and are essential for humans as these fats are not biologically synthesized. The two most important ones are DHA and EPA and have been linked to a number of benefits, which include:
- Lowering triglyceride (blood fat) and cholesterol levels.
- Research has linked EPA and DHA to preventing stiffness and joint pains, reducing the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
According to a Portland based research, the higher the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, the levels of depression are found to be lower. However, It takes the right combination of fats and anti-depressants, in addition to other therapies a client may be using, to get results.
- Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants and may help the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Since Omega-3 fatty acids are required for proper development (which includes developing babies), pregnant and lactating women are encouraged to eat foods rich in DHA and EPA.
- Lastly, it is important to remember that the human Central Nervous System is primarily made up of DHA – and it is critical to maintain it’s proper functioning.
Diets deficient of omega-3 may result in depression, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, dry and itchy skin, inability to concentrate, joint pain and brittle hair and nails. While no dietary upper limits have been reported, it is important to remember that like anything else, moderation is key.
While out to dine, it is really important to know the calorific content of what you’re eating, but luckily sushi isn’t that high on the calorie scale – provided that you can avoid Tempura Temptation! If watching your weight, you should stay away from menu items labeled as “tempura” or “crunchy,” as these dishes are breaded and deep fried. Shrimp by itself is low in calories and fat, but served up in a shrimp tempura roll, it packs about 544 calories and 13 grams of fat.
One must also remember the importance of portion control! Always pair your sushi rolls with a nice soup (miso soup works well with most varieties) and salad to keep things light. Sushi is healthy food but not something you’d want to binge on. Keep a track on your sodium consumption as well because that could cause bloating and water retention – the culprits are usually excessive quantities of soy sauce, miso, and edamame.
Remember, when it comes to sushi, follow this proverb and you’ll be fine:
He who has his stomach full only 80% will not need a doctor.
(Jp:腹八分に医者いらず。 Hara hachi bun-ni ishia shirazu.)
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